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Place of interest in Nepal

Kathmandu Valley

Legend has said that Kathmandu valley was once a great lake and Manjushree is said to have slashed a hill, which is presently known as Chovar, to drain the water to give us Kathmandu valley, as we know it. Today it is no longer an expansive watery body but a vast lake of architectural and cultural wonders.

Kathmandu, the small mountain sheltered valley; the arrival and visit point for the visitors is the historical and architectural center point of Nepal which was crowned with the title of “Capital City “after the great unification of Nepal in 1768 AD.

It is no wonder that seven UNESCO designated world heritage sites are situated within a radius of a few km in the valley. The three Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur (3 districts of the Valley) are renowned to the arena of tourism for being a masterpiece in art and architecture. Just walking through the narrow lanes of the city is travel back into time. Unchanged for centuries some of the places look like open air museums with skillfully built temples, palaces and stone structures which bear testimony to the rich cultural and artistic heritage of the city. It is also home to Kumari, the living child goddess who is the protector of the city. The old carved houses, narrow lanes, and frequently encountering ancient temples and moreover adorned by the rare and attracting cultures and festivals enlists Kathmandu as “a focal destination” for sightseeing.The valley forwards itself to the panoramic views of the captivating Himalayas, sequestered jungles and also to the exotic hiking corners.

Places of interest around Kathmandu

Kathmandu Valley

Legend has said that Kathmandu valley was once a great lake and Manjushree is said to have slashed a hill, which is presently known as Chovar, to drain the water to give us Kathmandu valley, as we know it. Today it is no longer an expansive watery body but a vast lake of architectural and cultural wonders.

Kathmandu, the small mountain sheltered valley; the arrival and visit point for the visitors is the historical and architectural center point of Nepal which was crowned with the title of “Capital City “after the great unification of Nepal in 1768 AD.

It is no wonder that seven UNESCO designated world heritage sites are situated within a radius of a few km in the valley. The three Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur (3 districts of the Valley) are renowned to the arena of tourism for being a masterpiece in art and architecture. Just walking through the narrow lanes of the city is travel back into time. Unchanged for centuries some of the places look like open air museums with skillfully built temples, palaces and stone structures which bear testimony to the rich cultural and artistic heritage of the city. It is also home to Kumari, the living child goddess who is the protector of the city. The old carved houses, narrow lanes, and frequently encountering ancient temples and moreover adorned by the rare and attracting cultures and festivals enlists Kathmandu as “a focal destination” for sightseeing.The valley forwards itself to the panoramic views of the captivating Himalayas, sequestered jungles and also to the exotic hiking corners.

Places of interest around Kathmandu

Kathmandu Durbar Square: Kathmandu boasts one of the largest congregations of magnificent historical monuments and shrines ever built. Duly recognized as a world Heritage Site by UNESCO- this particular area best known as Kathmandu Durbar Square lies in the heart of the city. It is the historic seat of royalty. Clustered around the central Durbar Square is the old Royal Palace (Hanuman Dhoka), which serves as a museum that chronicles the life of the past rulers of Nepal, numerous interesting temples dedicated to different Hindu gods and goddess, the Kumari Bahal (House of the Living Goddess) and the Kasthamandap (House of Wood), built probably in the 12th century, a wonderful example of craftsmanship made from a single tree & from which Kathmandu derived its present name. An inquisitive exploration in the Durbar Square reveals the ancient art and architecture of Nepal , which has proved to be a masterpiece to everyone accepting its genuineness.

Most of the buildings we see here date from 15th to 18th century. The entire Palace Complex here is named after a monkey god called Hanuman. One can see a huge stone statue of Hanuman painted all red right next to the main entrance (the golden gate) of the palace. Hanuman here is regarded as a powerful protector of the entire Durbar Square . There are also Numismatic Museum and Tribhuvan Museum inside the Hanuman Dhoka Palace building. Photography is prohibited inside the museums. Both the museums remain closed on Tuesdays and government holidays.
Some of the important monuments to be seen here are:

Taleju temple: The tallest of all structures built by king Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D.

 Jagannath temple: Built in the 16th century, known for fascinating erotic figures carving the wooden strata eaves.

Kal Bhairav: One of the largest stone idols in Kathmandu representing the terrifying aspects of Shiva.

Statue of King Pratap Malla: It is in praying gesture to Taleju, the royal family deity right across.

Kumari Ghar: It is a17th century Kumari temple, an example of the highly developed Nepalese temple craft. This residence of Living goddess, Kumari, is situated in the vicinity of Hanuman Dhoka Palace . The building has profusely carved wooden blaconies and window screens. The Kumari- the living Goddess, acknowledges the greetings from her balcony window. Photography is prohibited.

Kasthamandap: Located near the temple of Kumari , it is said to have been built by King Laxmi Narsingha Malla in the beginning of the sixteenth century from the timber of a single tree. It is said to be constructed from the wood of a single tree. The Kathmandu City derives its name from the same temple, Kasthamandap.

Syambhunath: Soyambhunath is one of the world’s most enchanting glorious and the oldest Buddhist stupas. It is said to be more than 2000 years old. This glorious manmade landmark is three kilometers west of Kathmandu city and is situated on a hillock about 77m above the level of the Kathmandu Valley . Referred to as the monkey temple, this instantly recognizable structure with the all-seeing eyes of the Lord Buddha, Painted on the four sides of the spire bases, the symbol of Buddha’s clairvoyant powers, is also the symbol of the capital city. The Stupa of Swayambhunath stands on a typically stylized lotus Mandala base-a long time ago believed to have originated from a legendary lake of Kathmandu Valley. Its main feature the white dome is identified with a spotless pure jewel of Nirvana and a thirteen-tiered golden spire in conical shape surmounted on the dome. From the platform of the spot the splendid changing view of the valley could be seen with the monkeys running here and there.

 Machchhendranath Temple: The temple of Sweta Machchhendranath is situated at Machchhendra Bahal between Indra Chowk and Asan. It is a pagoda of considerable artistic beauty. Also called as Janmadyo or Machchhendra the deity.

 Akash Bhairav Temple: A three storey temple in the main market avenue, called Indra Chowk, the image of Akash Bhairav is displayed outside for a week during Indra Jatra, the festival of Indra – the God of Rain.

 Ashok Vinayak: The small but a very important temple of Ashok Vinayak is situated behind the Kasthamandap -also known as Kathmandu Ganesh or Maru Ganesh.

Martyr’s Memorial (Sahid) Gate: It is located between Bhimsen Stambha and Bhadrakali temple. The memorial arch contains the statue of the late King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah and the busts of four martyrs.

 Bhadrakali Temple: As the eastern edge of the Tundikhel, near Shahid Gate stands the temple of Goddess Bhadrakali . This temple is also known as Lumarhi Temple and is one of the main “Shakta” temples of Kathmandu city.

 Narayanhity Durbar: It is the Former Royal Palace. A famous historic water spout called Narayanhity, is situated at the southern corner of the Palace.

Balaju Water Garden: Situated about five kilometers North-west of Kathmandu, Balaju Garden features fountains with 22 crocodile headed water spout dating from the mid eighteenth century. There is also a swimming pool inside the park.

 National Museum: Two and half kilometers west of Kathmandu , the National Museum has a splendid collection of weapons, artifacts from ancient, medieval and modern Nepal . Its archaeological and historical displays are worth seeing. The museum is open everyday except Tuesday and government holidays.

 Guheswari Temple: Near Pashupatinath is located another historic and holy temple of Guheswari . Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temple courtyard.

 Chabahil: The lovely Stupa of Chabahil is believed to have been built by Charumati, the daughter of the Indian Emperor Ashoka, in the third century B.C. There are ancient statues around the Stupa.

 Chandra Vinayak: The temple of Chandra Vinayak is situated about 200m. north of Chabahil Stupa. This double tiered brass roofed temple houses a tiny image of Lord Ganesh, the elephant -headed god.

Gokarna: This lovely Game Sanctuary, also known as Gokarna Safari Park , lies about ten kilometers north-east of Kathmandu . Many wild animals such as spotted deer can be viewed in the sanctuary from an elephant back. On the northern side of Gokarna, is a pagoda of Gokarneshwor Mahadev.

 Sankhu: It is a typical Newari town, with many fine old buildings and temples. Beyond the village, up a long flight of stone stairs, is Bajra Jogini, a historical temple with a beautiful view of the local area.

 Sundarijal: It is famous for its scenic beauty.There are magnificent waterfalls, cataracts and rock formations. It is an ideal place for picnic requiring a short walk after the motorable road.

 Chobhar: Located 9km southwest of Kathmandu , this place is famous for its gorge. All the water of the valley drains through it. There is a small but picturesque Adinath temple on the top of a hill from where one can take in a spectacular view of snow topped giant Himalayan peaks.

Shekha Narayan: Situated between Chobhar and Dakshinkali the temple of Shekha Narayan represents one of the four Narayans of the Kathmandu Valley . The other three Narayans are Changu Narayan of Bhaktapur, Visankhu Narayan of Patan and Ichangu Narayan of Kathmandu .

 

PATAN

This ancient city of Patan also Known as Lalitpur or the city of fine arts is about five kilometers southeast of Kathmandu . Lalitpur is fragmented from other cities due to its substantive architectural ancient masterpieces. Patan’s central durbar square is absolutely packed with temples: it’s an architectural center point with a far greater concentration of temples per sq. meter than in Kathamandu or Bhaktapur.

Places of Interest around Patan

Krishna Mandir: Krishna mandir,built in 1637 by the king Siddhinarsingh Malla,is one of the grandeur of Patan square. The entire temple is constructed from the stone. Golden Temple which is the unique Buddhist Monastery was founded in the12th century which is a large rectangular building has three roofs and a copper gilded façade with the images of Buddha and Avalokitesvara where there are Buddha images and illustrations on the walls. Take the pleasure of discovering this Patan durbar square, which has been entitled in the World Heritage Site.

Patan Durbar square: Patan Durbar square lies in the North West of Kathmandu city in the heart of Lalitpur city. The square is full of ancient palaces, temples and shrines, noted for their exquisite carvings. The square has been unrestrainedly adorned by the Bhimsen Temple, Manga Hiti, Vishwanath Temple, Jagannarayan Temple and numerous. Marking the Northern end of the palace complex, the museum’s imposing Keshav Narayan Chowk is still overshadowed by the dominant Degutale temple behind. The Sundari Chowk holds in its center a masterpiece of stone architecture, the Royal bath called Tushshity. The Palace and its Square are inscribed as a World Heritage Site.

Mahaboudha: A litle further east from Patan Durbar Square lies this Buddhist temple made of clay bricks in which thousands of images of Lord Buddha engraved. The terra-cotta structure is one of the fourteenth century Nepalese architectural masterpieces.

Hiranya Verna Mahavihar: Located inside kwabadehal, this three storey golden pagoda of Lokeshwor (Lord Buddha) was built in the twelfth century by king Bhaskar Verma. Inside the upper storey of the pagoda, are the golden image of Lord Buddha and a large prayer wheel.

Kumbheshwor: This fine tiered temple of Lord Shiva was built during the reign of King Jayasthiti Malla. A fair is held here on the Janai Poornima day in August.

Jagatnarayan Temple: Situated at Sankhmul, this tall, imposing temple of Lord Vishnu. The temple has many fine images of stone and an artistic metal statue of Garuda on a stone pillar.

Rudra Varna Mahavihar: This unique Buddhist monastery contains fine and amazing collection of images and statues in metal, stone and wood. It is believed that the Kings in the ancient times were crowned in this monastery. Many of the treasures offered by the devotees can be seen here even today.

The Ashokan Stupas: There are four ancient stupas popularly believed to have been built in 250 B.C. by Emperor Ashoka at the four corners of Patan. The four stupas are situated in Pulchowk, Lagankhel, Ebahi and in Teta (way to Sano Gaon) respectively. These stupas give evidence to the city’s ancient religious importance.

Acchheswor Mahavihar: It was established towards the beginning of the seventeenth century by one Acchheshwor by building a temple to house an idol of Lord Buddha. The Mahavihar has recently been reconstructed. Situated behind the Ashokan Stupa at Pulchowk, the Mahavihar commands a beautiful view of The Kathmandu Valley.

Temple of Machhendranath and Minnath: The pagoda of Red Machhendranath built in 1408 A.D. is situated in Tabahal. For six months the deity is taken to its other shrine in Bungmati. The temple of Minnath is situated in Tangal on the way to Tabahal.

The Zoo: Situated at Jawalakhel, the zoo has many animals,birds and reptiles in its collections mostly representing the Himalayan fauna. There is a beautiful pond built in 17th A. D.

Patan Industrial Estate: Patan Industrial Estate is situated at Lagankhel in Lalitpur (Patan) near Sat Dobato. This Industrial Estate is well known for Nepali handicrafts such as wood carvings, metal crafts, carpets and thangka paintings. For The convenience of The tourists there is a shopping arcade where all the handicraft products of the Estate are exhibited in the shopping arcade.

Bajra Barahi: Situated in a small woodland park, it is about ten kilometers south of Patan near the village of Chapagaon . A visit to Tika Bhairav and Lele from here is worthwhile.

Godavari: Situated at the foothills of Phulchowki, Royal Botanical Garden has a splendid natural beauty. The road from Patan city runs to Godavari to The soutlh-east, passing through the small, old towns of Harisiddhi, Thaiba and Badegaun. It is the only in Nepal , is open daily including Saturdays and government holidays.

Phulchowki: Located around ten kilometers southeast of Patan, this mountain, 2758 m. high, is a good spot for hiking. A Buddhist shrine is situated on the top of the hill which can be reached through a jeep able road.

BHAKTAPUR

Bhaktapur, locally known as Khwopa is world-renowned for its elegant art, fabulous culture and indigenous life-style. It is known for its majestic monuments, colorful festivals and the native Newars best known for their generations-old craftsmanship. The ancient city is also popularly known as the “city of culture”, “the living heritage” and ” Nepal ‘s cultural capital”.

Situated at an altitude of about 1,401m, Bhaktapur covers area of 4 square miles. The city lies about 14 kilometers east of Kathmandu and can be reached by public transport and other means of vehicles. Shaped like a conch-shell, Bhaktapur means the city of devotees . It is the third major town of the valley and in many ways the most mediaeval. Pottery and weaving are it’s ancient industries. Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square is much larger and more spacious than Kathmandu ‘s and much less crowded with temples than Patan’s.

Bhaktapur’s Royal Palace was founded by Yaksha Malla and added to by successive Kings. Unfortunately the palace suffered great damage in the 1934 earthquake and its subsequent reconstruction did not match its original artistry.

Places to see in Bhaktapur:

Bhaktapur Durbar Square: Bhaktapur durbar square is one of the seven UNESCO world heritage sites located in the Kathmandu valley.the spectacular square, the capital of the Malla Kingdom till 1769, is an open museum in itself. Victorian illustrations show that it was once packed with monasteries, temples and artistic buildings, almost one third of which were destroyed by the desasterous earthquake of 1934. The square however still holds mesmerizing palaces, pagodas, shikhara-style temples as well as Buddhist monasteries exclusively architectured. It is a conglomeration of pagoda and Shikhar style temples grouped around a fifty-five-window palace of brick and wood. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal. The golden effigies of kings perched on the top of stone monoliths, the guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in every place-stratum, lintels, uprights, tympanums, gateways and windows, all seem to form a well-orchestrated symphony. The square contains many temples and other architectural ones like the Lion Gate, the Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, the picture Gallery, the golden Gate, the palace 55 windows, the Batsala temple and the Bell of Barking dogs, etc. The statue of the king Bhupatindra Malla in the act of worship is placed on a column facing the palace. Of the many statues available in Nepal this is considered to be the most magnificent and glorious.

The Palace of 55 Windows: It was built in the seventeenth century by King Bhupatindra Malla. Among the brick walls with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony of 55 windows. This balcony is a masterpieace of wood carving.

The Stone Temple of Batsala Devi: which is also located in the Durbar square is full of intricate carvings. This temple also sets a beautiful example of Shikhara style of architecture in Nepal . There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple which is also known as the “bell of barking dogs”. This colossal bell, placed in 1737 A.D. was used to sound curfew during that time.

The Golden Gate: It is the entrance to the main countyard of the Palace of 55 windows. Built King Ranjit Malla, the Gate is one of the most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind in the entire world. This gate is embellished with deities and monsters of marvellous intricacy.

Taumadhi square: Taumadhi Square, just a half minute walk from the Durbar square is the square that divides the ancient town into the upper and lower halves. The biggest festival of the town – Bisket Jatra, scheduled every year in April – starts from this very square. The square is dominated by many mesmerizing temples and other medieval architecture such as:

Nyatapola Temple: The Nyatapola temple most dominantly lying in the south face of the square, named after its physical structure (five tiers of roof), is the tallest temple in the valley and certainly on of Nepal’s most stupendous monuments. The timple founded by king Bhupatindra Malla in 1702 A.D. is dedicated to Goddess Siddhi Laxmi – the most powerful female force. On each of the terraces squat a pair of figures; two famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins and Baghini and Singini the tiger and the lion goddesses. This is one of the tallest pagodas and is famous for its massive structureand subtle workmanship.

Bhairav Temple: The huge pagoda style temple erected at the eastside of the square is dedicated to Bhairav – the ferocious form of lord Shiva, built by Jagat Jyoti Malla in 1614 AD. This temple was first built as a one-storey pagoda but later changed into a three-storey temple in 1718 A.D. by king Bhupatindra Malla. Bhairav – the central image of the temple is a head without body. According to the legend, Vishvanath in other words a name given to Shiva in the holy city Kashi once visited Bhaktapur to observe the Bisket Jatra.

Teel Mahadev Narayan Temple: South from Nyatapola, across the Taumadhi square an alley beneath a house leads to the lord Vishnu’s ancient shrine of Teel Mahadev Narayan. Although the place was in use since 1080 A.D. the icons were believed to place inside the temple only in 1170 A.D. A disc, lotus, conch shell and a mace – four emblems of lord Vishnu are placed on pillars to the sides of the entrance.

Dattatraya Square: Like the other Squares, Dattatraya Square is another open museum that contains innumerable monumental masterpieces of woodcarvings. The square originally known as “Tachupal” verbally meaning the ‘grand rest house’ – alone consists seven ‘math’s, among a dozen existing in Bhaktapur. The major attractions of the Square are as follows:

Dattatraya Temple: Built in 1427 A.D. by king Yakshya Malla and his son Raja Malla is the only temple in Nepal that is dedicated to the God Dattatraya – the combined incarnation of the three supreme Gods of Hinduism; Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Near this temple is a monastery with exquisitely carved peacock windows.

Pujari Math ( Wood Carving Museum ): It is the best and the most richly architectured among all the maths. It was built by King Yakshya Malla in the 15 th century and was used for the storage of donations and contributions until late 20 th century. Until a few years back an annual caravan of Tibetan Lamas used to bring tributes to the monastery. It has a splendid collection of antique carvings. A set of 14 roof struts, image of Visundhara (1 st century), tantric images of Vishnu Vishwarupa with 30 arms and 17 faces and a mouth in its Bhairav (17 th century), Pujadevi (15 th century) etc. are a few to mention here.

Bhimsen Temple: To the west to the Dattatraya temple, across the square stands a double storied rectangular pagoda styled temple dedicated to Lord Bhimsen built in 1605 A.D. Lord Bhimsen is considered to be as strong as thousand elephant.

Pottery Square: Bhaktapur has two famous pottery squares, one is located at Talaco towards the Durbar Square and another one located at Suryamadhi, to the east of the Dattatraya square. Many potters can seen working on their traditional wheels and thousands of finished and seni-finished clay products lie about in beautiful rows under the sun.

Museums in Bhaktapur: The major specialized museums in Bhaktapur are as follows:

The National Art Gallery: This gallery located at Durbar Square , has a magnificent collection of ancient thanka paintings and various classic and medieval masterpieces belonging to Hindu and Buddhist schools depicting Tantrism of various periods and descriptions in wood, stone and metal.

The Wood Carving Museum: The Wood Carving museum is housed in a 19 th century building, known as the Pujari Math specially built for the priests of those periods. The ‘Math’ itself is elegant in its architecture with enumerable intricately carved wooden doors and windows including the famous Peacock window.

The Bronze & Brass Museum: Right opposite to the Wood Carving Museum , in specify name ‘Math’ the Bronze & Brass Museum displays heterogeneous ceremonial and household metal ware. The collection of objects such as jars, water vessels, cooking pots, oil pots etc which are used in the ancient and medieval periods.

Surya Vinayak: Situated in a beautiful surrounding of Bhadgaon, the temple of Ganesh is placed in a Sylvan setting to catch the first rays of the rising sun. It is a good picnic spot flanked by many attractive landscapes.

Changu Narayan: Narayan, or Vishnu, is the preserver of creation to Hindus. His temple near Changu village is often described as the most ancient temple in the Kathmandu Valley . A fifth century stone inscription, the oldest discovered in Nepal , is located in the temple compound and it tells of the victorious King Mandev. The temple now covers sixteen hundred years of Nepalese art history. The temple, built around the third century, is decorated by some of the best samples of stone, wood, and metal craft in the Valley. Vishnu as Narsingha disemboweling a demon is particularly stunning. The western bronze doors sparkle in the evening sunlight, dragons decorate the bells, and handsome devas stare from the walls. Garuda, half man and half bird, is the steed of Vishnu, and his life-sized statue kneels before the temple. The favorite of many tourists is the statue of Vishnu sitting astride his steed.

Nagarkot (Windy Hill): Perched on a ridge on the northeastern rim of the Kathmandu valley, at an elevation of 2175 m, this hill station is most popular, comfort and quite among Kathmandu sites. It is at a distance of 32 km from Kathmandu . Several factors have contributed to its popularity – easy accessibility, crisp mountain air, pristine and tranquil atmosphere, and the 360-degree view of the Himalayas . The most scenic spot close to the valley the village has managed to force its way into the travel section of Time magazine. Breathtaking sunrise and splendid evenings make a trip to Nagarkot most rewarding and refreshing. Five of the world’s 10 tallest mountain can be seen from here which are Everest (8848m), Lhotse (8516m), Cho Oyu (8201m), Makalu (8463m), and Manasalu (8163m).

KIRTIPUR

Kirtipur is one of the most ancient attractions of Nepal . Situated atop a strategic hillock 10 km southwest of Kathmandu , Kirtipur (local name Kipu) indeed embodies courage and bravery. Tribhuvan University is located at the foot of the hill. This historic town has many things to offer like old shrines and temples, old houses, the people typically dressed in old traditional costumes, people working on ancient loom etc. Those, who enjoy basking in antiquity, should never miss to go around this historic place to have a closes-up view of the wonderful lifestyle of its Newar inhabitants and their much admired skills in producing textile and other handicraft items. The height of Kirtipur also makes it a favored place for viewing the Kathmandu Valley as well as the Himalayas in the distant north. And for those, who wish blending their cultural trip with a touch of spiritual salvation, there are the Buddhist Chilamchu Stupa, Shiva Parvati temple and many other remarkable mountains.

Places outside Kathmandu
There are many beautiful and interesting places to visit outside the Kathmandu Valley- places of historical importance of noted for natural beauty. Most of them can be easily reached from kathmandu by road or by air.

Pokhara

Pokhara Valley is one of the most picturesque spot of Nepal . Pokhara stands at 884 meters above sea level, about 700 meters lower than Kathmandu . Its lovely lakes such as Fewa, Begnas and Rupa as well as Barahi Temple , Davy’s fall, Mahendra Gupha (Cave) etc enhances the beauty of the valley. Situated 200 km west of Kathmandu , Pokhara is connected by air as well or by tourist luxuries bus from Kathmandu . Pokhara offers the magnificent views of Dhaulagiri , Manaslu, Machhapuchhre, 5 peaks of Annapurna and many others. Pokhara’s numerous lakes, known as “Tal” in Nepali offer fishing, boating and swimming. Pokhara is gateway to go to several trekking destination in the country. Now a day Pokhara is a fashionable and holiday destination especially for the tourists where there are economical to the most luxurious hotels to welcome the visitors. In the Kathmandu Valley the high temples are all around you, in the Pokhara Valley it is the mountains.

Lumbini

Lumbini, a World Heritage Site is not only a place of pilgrimage but also an international tourist attraction where Lord Buddha was born, who ultimately got enlightenment and preached his message to the world. This nativity site was identified by Indian Emperor Ashoka’s commemorative pillar. The main attraction at the Lumbini remains the Sacred Garden that is spread over 8 sq. km, the Mayadevi Temple , Ashoka Pillar, sacred pond, China Temple etc. The sacred Garden possesses all the treasures of the historic area. The Mayadevi temple is the main attraction for pilgrims and archaeologists alike. Here we find a bas relief of Mayadevi, the Buddha’s mother giving birth to him. Standing west to the Mayadevi shrine is the oldest monument of Nepal ; the Ashoka’s pillar. Emperor Ashoka built the pillar in 249 BC to commemorate his pilgrimage to the sacred site. To the south of the pillar, we fine the sacred pond, Puskarni, where Queen Mayadevi had taken a bath just before giving birth to the Buddha. Today the holy site is being developed as the supreme Buddhist pilgrimage and a symbol of world peace. The shrines and monasteries built by different countries and in different times reflect the architectural traditions of the respective countries, and thus giving Lumbini an international feel with a message of universal friendship and brotherhood. About 30km east of Lumbini is the village of Tilaurakot , which is believed to have been the location of the Kapilvastu royal palace where the Buddha grew up as the Shakya dynasty prince, until he renounced it at the age of 29 in search of enlightenment.

A tour to this destination will bring emancipation in one’s life, which is so pure, peace and prosperous to those who seek salvation from the filthy activities practiced in the world. There are other places of interest too nearby as Kapilbastu. It is accessible by air from Kathmandu to Bhairahwa. From Kathmandu it takes about eight hours by bus or car.

There are also three museums in Lumbini
The Lumbini Museum , located in the Cultural Zone, contains Mauryan and Kushana coins, religious manuscripts, terra-cotta fragments, and stone and metal sculptures. It also possesses an extensive collection of stamps from various countries depicting Lumbini and the Buddha.

Kapilvastu Museum is situated 27 km west of Lumbini in the village of Tilaurakot . The museum holds coins, pottery and toys dating between the seventh century BC and fourth century AD. The museum also has good collection of jewelry and other ornaments of that period.

Lumbini International Research Institute (LIRI), located opposite to the Lumbini Museum , provides research facilities for the study of Buddhism and religion in general. Run jointly by the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) and the Reiyukai of Japan, LIRI contains some 12,000 books on religion, philosophy, art and architecture.

Some of the important sites around Lumbini:
Kapilvastu: Located some 27 kilometers west of Lumbini lies the ruins of the historic town of Kapilvastu , which is believed to the capital of Shakya Kingdom where Lord Buddha was brought up till he was 13. Kapilvastu has been identified with Tilaurakot by archaeologist. There are ruins and mounds of old stupas and monasteries made of kiln-burnt bricks and clay mortar. The remains are surrounded by a moat and the wall of the city is made of bricks. A museum at Kapilvastu showcases everyday materials like ancient coins, terracotta utensils, metallic weapons and ornaments.

Arorakot: About 10 kilometers morthwest of Taulihawa is a rectangular fortitied area popularly known as Arorakot, which is believed to be the natal town of Kanakmuni Buddha . There are remains of ancient moat and the fortification made of bricks. A brick lined will is seen to the south and an elevated mound is toward the northwest.

Gotihawa: About 5 kilometers southwest of Taulihawa, there is a village called Gotihawa where an Ashokan pillar is broke and lost. The lower portion is 3.5 meters high and still intact. A huge stupa is seen to the north east of the pillar.

Kudan: About 2 kilometers northwest of Taulihawa on a roadside is the dilapidated village of Kudan .

Niglihawa: About 8 kilometer northwest of Taulihawa is another site of archaeological importance. The place has a quadrangular pond surrounded by bushes locally known as Niglisagar. On the western bank of the pond there are two broken pieces of the Ashokan Pillar, the longer one lying flat on the ground while the shorter ones stand erect. The pillar bears two peacocks on the top.

Sagarhawa: About 12 kilometers north of Taulihawa is the forest of Sagarhawa . In the midst of the forest here is a huge rectangular pond, locally known as Lumbusagar or a long pond.

Devdaha: Situated at about 35 kilometers northeast of Lumbini, Devdaha is believed to be the maternal home of Prince Siddhartha. Siddhartha’s wife Princess Yasodhara was also from Devdaha.

Daman: Daman in Nepal is a destination for all seasons and is a perfect place for honeymoon couples, or any other visitors with short stay in Nepal. People come to this place for family holidays, meditation, seminars and to unwind or undertake more adventurous outdoor activities. It is located 80km south west of Kathmandu on the Tribhuwan Raj Path (the original highway to the nearest Indian border town- Raxaul), and is exactly half-way to Chitwan National Park from Kathmandu. It takes only 3 hrs of bus ride from Kathmandu to get here. On a clear day you can get a view of 400km range of Himalayas Panorama – 8 out of 10 highest mountains including Mt. Everest. You can also hike to a Buddhist Monastery & Rikheshwor Mahadevsthan or surrounding Tamang villages. Other attractions include – Pony Trek,Mountain Biking, Sunset Walk, Bird Watching, and Fishing near by Indra Sarovar Lake. Daman is famous for its countless varieties of Wild Orchids; Colorful and varied bird-life abounds; Deer can be seen around the resort compound sometimes.

Dhulikhel: Popular as a Himalayan viewpoint this small town is 30 km from the capital. Located on the Arniko highway that connects Nepal and Tibet , the small town still retains its ancient grandeur – age-old customs, temples and houses. The Newar town of Dhulikhel offers a traditional atmosphere along with spectacular views. A few minutes from Dhulikhel are the ancient villages of Panauti and Namo Buddha, which have their own stories to tell. Once an important link in the ancient trade route to Tibet , Dhulikhel has a glorious past, which can be seen in the lovely buildings and intricate woodcarvings in the shop-lined streets and temples. Pleasant climate is big attraction at Dhulikhel.

Kakani: Kakani is another good location for viewing the mountain scenery. Only two hours north-west of Kathmandu , one can see the mountain landscape of central Nepal , a vast collection of majestic peaks stretching from Ganesh Himal to the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. There is an unusually perfect blending of the imposing mountain scenery with the more sylvan environment of the lower valleys. Rhododendrons growing wild on the mountain slopes begin to bloom in late winter and stay in bloom for several months, giving the village even more charm.

Panauti: It is a thriving Newari village with beautiful temples and interesting old houses. Located between Punyamati and Rosikhola about 34km south east of Kathmandu . It derives its name from Punyamati River , also known as Punyamata by the local people. It is an interesting spot, as the people tend to believe that there is a huge rock all the way to Godavari from Panauti. They take it as a Naga, the serpent king capable of protecting them against earthquake of any richer scale in 1934. Once you are in Panauti, you will discover that the whole area is dotted with innumerable gods and goddesses rather like the constellation of stars in the universe.

Namo Buddha: Namo Buddha or Namura Stupa, which is highly revered by both Nepalese and Tibetan Buddhists. This is situated on a hill above Panauti. It requires an easy drive or good walk to get here. There is an amazing legends related to the Buddha, which is commemorated by an ancient stones slab and a stupa with the al-seeing eyes. From here, one can have incredible views to the Himalayan to north. A 7th century Chinese Buddhists pilgrim was told a similar story in Mongolia when he visited pilgrimage place, which seems to show the story was going the rounds of the tellers. It is said that Buddha in one of his previous lives was a prince and while game hunting with his friends, he found some tiger cubs whose mother was starving and unable to feed them. The prince cut some flesh from his body and fed the starving tigress and her cubs. The local from Panauti claimed him as their prince and say because of this good deed he became the Buddha in a later life.

Tansen: Located at an altitude of 1343m above the sea-level, Tansen is the most popular summer resort in western Nepal because of its position and climate. It has the most extensive views of the country’s chief attraction, the great Himalayan ranges from Gaurishanker in the northeast to Dhaulagiri in the west. It takes just seven-hours by drive from Pokhara to get Tansen.

Palanchowk Bhagawati: It is a 42km, one-hour drive from Kathmandu to Palanchowk on the Arniko highway. This noted historic temple of goddess Kali is situated at a hilltop some 7km north of Panchkhal. One can really enjoy the panoramic view of the landscape from this spot. This temple is said to have been constructed during the region of King Mandev. The temple houses a three feet high idol of goddess Kali artistically carved in a black stone, which is one of the best examples of such intricate workmanship.

Gosainkunda: One of the most famous religious places of pilgrimage of Nepal is Gosainkunda lake, situated at an altitude of about 4360 m. The best approach to Gosainkunda is through Dhunche, 132 kilometres north east of kathmandu. Dhunche is linked with Kathmandu by a motorable road. Surrounded by high mountains on the north and the south, the Lake is grand and picturesque. There are other nine famous lakes such as Saraswati, Bhairav, Sourya and Ganesh Kunda, etc.

Timal Narayan: The route from Dhulikhel to Timal Narayan is ideal for a short trek. From here one can have a beautiful view of Gaurishanker Himal and other important peaks as well as Sunkoshi river. It is also very pleasant to visit the villages of the Tamang people who live in this area.

Charikot: About 133 kilometers from Kathmandu , Charikot provides a spectacular mountain view of the Gaurishanker. In the eastern upper part of Dolakha township there is a famous roofless temple of Dolakha Bhimsen .

Helambu: Helambu situated about 72 kilometers north-east of Kathmandu is famous for its scenic grandeur and pleasant climate. There are many Buddhist monasteries amidst a rich and enchanting landscape. Sundarijal is the starting point to trek to Helambu which is mere 11 kilometers away from Kathmandu .

Gorkha: Gorkha is the birth place of King Prithvi Narayan Shah- the Great, the founder of modern Nepal . Situated on a hill overlooking the snowy peaks of the Himalayas , there is a beautiful old palace known as Gorkha Durbar. There are two attractive temples of Gorakhnath and Kali inside the palace precinct. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple of Gorakhanath . Gorkha can be reached in about six hours from Kathmandu and in about four hours from Pokhara. A side trip to Manakamana on the way to Gorkha is very enjoyable and interesting.

Muktinath: The famous temple of Lord Muktinath lies in the district of Mustang and is situated about 18 kilometers north east of Jomsom at an altitude of about 3,749 meters. The temple is situated on a high mountain range and is visited during fair weather. There are two ways to get to Muktinath from Kathmandu . Either to take a direct flight from Kathmandu via Pokhara to Jomsom and hike for a couple of hours via Kagbeni or to trek all the way from Pokhara. There is also air service from Pokhara to Jomsom.

Rapti Valley (Chitwan): From Kathmandu it takes six hours to reach Chitwan. Situated 120 kilometers south-west of Kathmandu , the main attraction of Chitwan is Royal Chitwan National Park . This is one of the Nepal’s largest forest regions with a wide range of wildlife- the rare great one horned rhinoceros, several species of deer, sloth bear, leopard, wild boar, fresh water dolphin, crocodile and the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger. The diverse ecology is home to around 600 plant species, 50 mammals, and 49 amphibians and reptiles. Some of these flora and fauna are endangered.

Namche Bazaar: The name of Namche Bazaar is generally associated with that of Sagarmatha ( Mt. Everest ), the highest peak in the world. It is the entrance to the Everest region. Situated on the lap of Khumbu Himal range, Namche Bazaar is about 241 km. from Kathmandu and the distance is generally covered within 15 days by trekking. This place is the home of the legendary Sherpas. One can fly from Kathmandu to Lukla and Syangboche in the Everest region. Accommodations are available at Lukla, Namche bazaar, Thyangboche, Debuche, Periche, Pangboche, Lobuche and Gorakhshep respectively.

Janakpur: A great religious place, Janakpur is famous as the birthplace of Sita, the consort of Lord Rama. There is an artistic marble temple of Sita (Janaki), popoularly known as Naulakha Mandir. Religous festivals, pilgrimages, trade fairs and other festivities are held here on Bivaha Panchami and Ram Navami days. Janakpur is also linked with Kathmandu by air and road.

Biratnagar: The second largest city of Nepal Biratnagar is situated in the Koshi Zone. The city has some of the largest industrial undertakings in the country. There are a couple of pilgrimage spots in Dharan and Barahachhetra nearby the city. Biratnager is linked with Kathmandu by air and road.

Barahachhetra: A few kilometers from the main city of Biratnagar , Barahachhetra, the holy place of Hindu pilgrimage, lies at the confluence of the two rivers the Saptakoshi and Kokaha. There is the temple of Lord Baraha , the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Historians have traced the existence of this image from the twelth century.

Hile: It is situated about 13 kilometers north of Dhankuta Bazaar. The panorama of the major peaks of the eastern Himalayas including Sagarmatha (Mt.Everest) Makalu , Lhotse and Kumbhakarna.

Antu Danda: It is situated at an altitude of 1,677 m. in the llam district and is famous for its unique views of Everest and Kanchenjunga . It is the best place for viewings sunrise and sunset. There is a motorable road from llam to chhipitar.

Kathmandu Durbar Square: Kathmandu boasts one of the largest congregations of magnificent historical monuments and shrines ever built. Duly recognized as a world Heritage Site by UNESCO- this particular area best known as Kathmandu Durbar Square lies in the heart of the city. It is the historic seat of royalty. Clustered around the central Durbar Square is the old Royal Palace (Hanuman Dhoka), which serves as a museum that chronicles the life of the past rulers of Nepal, numerous interesting temples dedicated to different Hindu gods and goddess, the Kumari Bahal (House of the Living Goddess) and the Kasthamandap (House of Wood), built probably in the 12th century, a wonderful example of craftsmanship made from a single tree & from which Kathmandu derived its present name. An inquisitive exploration in the Durbar Square reveals the ancient art and architecture of Nepal , which has proved to be a masterpiece to everyone accepting its genuineness.

Most of the buildings we see here date from 15th to 18th century. The entire Palace Complex here is named after a monkey god called Hanuman. One can see a huge stone statue of Hanuman painted all red right next to the main entrance (the golden gate) of the palace. Hanuman here is regarded as a powerful protector of the entire Durbar Square . There are also Numismatic Museum and Tribhuvan Museum inside the Hanuman Dhoka Palace building. Photography is prohibited inside the museums. Both the museums remain closed on Tuesdays and government holidays.
Some of the important monuments to be seen here are:

Taleju temple: The tallest of all structures built by king Mahendra Malla in 1549 A.D.

 Jagannath temple: Built in the 16th century, known for fascinating erotic figures carving the wooden strata eaves.

Kal Bhairav: One of the largest stone idols in Kathmandu representing the terrifying aspects of Shiva.

Statue of King Pratap Malla: It is in praying gesture to Taleju, the royal family deity right across.

Kumari Ghar: It is a17th century Kumari temple, an example of the highly developed Nepalese temple craft. This residence of Living goddess, Kumari, is situated in the vicinity of Hanuman Dhoka Palace . The building has profusely carved wooden blaconies and window screens. The Kumari- the living Goddess, acknowledges the greetings from her balcony window. Photography is prohibited.

Kasthamandap: Located near the temple of Kumari , it is said to have been built by King Laxmi Narsingha Malla in the beginning of the sixteenth century from the timber of a single tree. It is said to be constructed from the wood of a single tree. The Kathmandu City derives its name from the same temple, Kasthamandap.

Syambhunath: Soyambhunath is one of the world’s most enchanting glorious and the oldest Buddhist stupas. It is said to be more than 2000 years old. This glorious manmade landmark is three kilometers west of Kathmandu city and is situated on a hillock about 77m above the level of the Kathmandu Valley . Referred to as the monkey temple, this instantly recognizable structure with the all-seeing eyes of the Lord Buddha, Painted on the four sides of the spire bases, the symbol of Buddha’s clairvoyant powers, is also the symbol of the capital city. The Stupa of Swayambhunath stands on a typically stylized lotus Mandala base-a long time ago believed to have originated from a legendary lake of Kathmandu Valley. Its main feature the white dome is identified with a spotless pure jewel of Nirvana and a thirteen-tiered golden spire in conical shape surmounted on the dome. From the platform of the spot the splendid changing view of the valley could be seen with the monkeys running here and there.

 Machchhendranath Temple: The temple of Sweta Machchhendranath is situated at Machchhendra Bahal between Indra Chowk and Asan. It is a pagoda of considerable artistic beauty. Also called as Janmadyo or Machchhendra the deity.

 Akash Bhairav Temple: A three storey temple in the main market avenue, called Indra Chowk, the image of Akash Bhairav is displayed outside for a week during Indra Jatra, the festival of Indra – the God of Rain.

 Ashok Vinayak: The small but a very important temple of Ashok Vinayak is situated behind the Kasthamandap -also known as Kathmandu Ganesh or Maru Ganesh.

Martyr’s Memorial (Sahid) Gate: It is located between Bhimsen Stambha and Bhadrakali temple. The memorial arch contains the statue of the late King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah and the busts of four martyrs.

 Bhadrakali Temple: As the eastern edge of the Tundikhel, near Shahid Gate stands the temple of Goddess Bhadrakali . This temple is also known as Lumarhi Temple and is one of the main “Shakta” temples of Kathmandu city.

 Narayanhity Durbar: It is the Former Royal Palace. A famous historic water spout called Narayanhity, is situated at the southern corner of the Palace.

Balaju Water Garden: Situated about five kilometers North-west of Kathmandu, Balaju Garden features fountains with 22 crocodile headed water spout dating from the mid eighteenth century. There is also a swimming pool inside the park.

 National Museum: Two and half kilometers west of Kathmandu , the National Museum has a splendid collection of weapons, artifacts from ancient, medieval and modern Nepal . Its archaeological and historical displays are worth seeing. The museum is open everyday except Tuesday and government holidays.

 Guheswari Temple: Near Pashupatinath is located another historic and holy temple of Guheswari . Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temple courtyard.

 Chabahil: The lovely Stupa of Chabahil is believed to have been built by Charumati, the daughter of the Indian Emperor Ashoka, in the third century B.C. There are ancient statues around the Stupa.

 Chandra Vinayak: The temple of Chandra Vinayak is situated about 200m. north of Chabahil Stupa. This double tiered brass roofed temple houses a tiny image of Lord Ganesh, the elephant -headed god.

Gokarna: This lovely Game Sanctuary, also known as Gokarna Safari Park , lies about ten kilometers north-east of Kathmandu . Many wild animals such as spotted deer can be viewed in the sanctuary from an elephant back. On the northern side of Gokarna, is a pagoda of Gokarneshwor Mahadev.

 Sankhu: It is a typical Newari town, with many fine old buildings and temples. Beyond the village, up a long flight of stone stairs, is Bajra Jogini, a historical temple with a beautiful view of the local area.

 Sundarijal: It is famous for its scenic beauty.There are magnificent waterfalls, cataracts and rock formations. It is an ideal place for picnic requiring a short walk after the motorable road.

 Chobhar: Located 9km southwest of Kathmandu , this place is famous for its gorge. All the water of the valley drains through it. There is a small but picturesque Adinath temple on the top of a hill from where one can take in a spectacular view of snow topped giant Himalayan peaks.

Shekha Narayan: Situated between Chobhar and Dakshinkali the temple of Shekha Narayan represents one of the four Narayans of the Kathmandu Valley . The other three Narayans are Changu Narayan of Bhaktapur, Visankhu Narayan of Patan and Ichangu Narayan of Kathmandu .

 

PATAN

This ancient city of Patan also Known as Lalitpur or the city of fine arts is about five kilometers southeast of Kathmandu . Lalitpur is fragmented from other cities due to its substantive architectural ancient masterpieces. Patan’s central durbar square is absolutely packed with temples: it’s an architectural center point with a far greater concentration of temples per sq. meter than in Kathamandu or Bhaktapur.

Places of Interest around Patan

Krishna Mandir: Krishna mandir,built in 1637 by the king Siddhinarsingh Malla,is one of the grandeur of Patan square. The entire temple is constructed from the stone. Golden Temple which is the unique Buddhist Monastery was founded in the12th century which is a large rectangular building has three roofs and a copper gilded façade with the images of Buddha and Avalokitesvara where there are Buddha images and illustrations on the walls. Take the pleasure of discovering this Patan durbar square, which has been entitled in the World Heritage Site.

Patan Durbar square: Patan Durbar square lies in the North West of Kathmandu city in the heart of Lalitpur city. The square is full of ancient palaces, temples and shrines, noted for their exquisite carvings. The square has been unrestrainedly adorned by the Bhimsen Temple, Manga Hiti, Vishwanath Temple, Jagannarayan Temple and numerous. Marking the Northern end of the palace complex, the museum’s imposing Keshav Narayan Chowk is still overshadowed by the dominant Degutale temple behind. The Sundari Chowk holds in its center a masterpiece of stone architecture, the Royal bath called Tushshity. The Palace and its Square are inscribed as a World Heritage Site.

Mahaboudha: A litle further east from Patan Durbar Square lies this Buddhist temple made of clay bricks in which thousands of images of Lord Buddha engraved. The terra-cotta structure is one of the fourteenth century Nepalese architectural masterpieces.

Hiranya Verna Mahavihar: Located inside kwabadehal, this three storey golden pagoda of Lokeshwor (Lord Buddha) was built in the twelfth century by king Bhaskar Verma. Inside the upper storey of the pagoda, are the golden image of Lord Buddha and a large prayer wheel.

Kumbheshwor: This fine tiered temple of Lord Shiva was built during the reign of King Jayasthiti Malla. A fair is held here on the Janai Poornima day in August.

Jagatnarayan Temple: Situated at Sankhmul, this tall, imposing temple of Lord Vishnu. The temple has many fine images of stone and an artistic metal statue of Garuda on a stone pillar.

Rudra Varna Mahavihar: This unique Buddhist monastery contains fine and amazing collection of images and statues in metal, stone and wood. It is believed that the Kings in the ancient times were crowned in this monastery. Many of the treasures offered by the devotees can be seen here even today.

The Ashokan Stupas: There are four ancient stupas popularly believed to have been built in 250 B.C. by Emperor Ashoka at the four corners of Patan. The four stupas are situated in Pulchowk, Lagankhel, Ebahi and in Teta (way to Sano Gaon) respectively. These stupas give evidence to the city’s ancient religious importance.

Acchheswor Mahavihar: It was established towards the beginning of the seventeenth century by one Acchheshwor by building a temple to house an idol of Lord Buddha. The Mahavihar has recently been reconstructed. Situated behind the Ashokan Stupa at Pulchowk, the Mahavihar commands a beautiful view of The Kathmandu Valley.

Temple of Machhendranath and Minnath: The pagoda of Red Machhendranath built in 1408 A.D. is situated in Tabahal. For six months the deity is taken to its other shrine in Bungmati. The temple of Minnath is situated in Tangal on the way to Tabahal.

The Zoo: Situated at Jawalakhel, the zoo has many animals,birds and reptiles in its collections mostly representing the Himalayan fauna. There is a beautiful pond built in 17th A. D.

Patan Industrial Estate: Patan Industrial Estate is situated at Lagankhel in Lalitpur (Patan) near Sat Dobato. This Industrial Estate is well known for Nepali handicrafts such as wood carvings, metal crafts, carpets and thangka paintings. For The convenience of The tourists there is a shopping arcade where all the handicraft products of the Estate are exhibited in the shopping arcade.

Bajra Barahi: Situated in a small woodland park, it is about ten kilometers south of Patan near the village of Chapagaon . A visit to Tika Bhairav and Lele from here is worthwhile.

Godavari: Situated at the foothills of Phulchowki, Royal Botanical Garden has a splendid natural beauty. The road from Patan city runs to Godavari to The soutlh-east, passing through the small, old towns of Harisiddhi, Thaiba and Badegaun. It is the only in Nepal , is open daily including Saturdays and government holidays.

Phulchowki: Located around ten kilometers southeast of Patan, this mountain, 2758 m. high, is a good spot for hiking. A Buddhist shrine is situated on the top of the hill which can be reached through a jeep able road.

BHAKTAPUR

Bhaktapur, locally known as Khwopa is world-renowned for its elegant art, fabulous culture and indigenous life-style. It is known for its majestic monuments, colorful festivals and the native Newars best known for their generations-old craftsmanship. The ancient city is also popularly known as the “city of culture”, “the living heritage” and ” Nepal ‘s cultural capital”.

Situated at an altitude of about 1,401m, Bhaktapur covers area of 4 square miles. The city lies about 14 kilometers east of Kathmandu and can be reached by public transport and other means of vehicles. Shaped like a conch-shell, Bhaktapur means the city of devotees . It is the third major town of the valley and in many ways the most mediaeval. Pottery and weaving are it’s ancient industries. Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square is much larger and more spacious than Kathmandu ‘s and much less crowded with temples than Patan’s.

Bhaktapur’s Royal Palace was founded by Yaksha Malla and added to by successive Kings. Unfortunately the palace suffered great damage in the 1934 earthquake and its subsequent reconstruction did not match its original artistry.

Places to see in Bhaktapur:

Bhaktapur Durbar Square: Bhaktapur durbar square is one of the seven UNESCO world heritage sites located in the Kathmandu valley.the spectacular square, the capital of the Malla Kingdom till 1769, is an open museum in itself. Victorian illustrations show that it was once packed with monasteries, temples and artistic buildings, almost one third of which were destroyed by the desasterous earthquake of 1934. The square however still holds mesmerizing palaces, pagodas, shikhara-style temples as well as Buddhist monasteries exclusively architectured. It is a conglomeration of pagoda and Shikhar style temples grouped around a fifty-five-window palace of brick and wood. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal. The golden effigies of kings perched on the top of stone monoliths, the guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in every place-stratum, lintels, uprights, tympanums, gateways and windows, all seem to form a well-orchestrated symphony. The square contains many temples and other architectural ones like the Lion Gate, the Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, the picture Gallery, the golden Gate, the palace 55 windows, the Batsala temple and the Bell of Barking dogs, etc. The statue of the king Bhupatindra Malla in the act of worship is placed on a column facing the palace. Of the many statues available in Nepal this is considered to be the most magnificent and glorious.

The Palace of 55 Windows: It was built in the seventeenth century by King Bhupatindra Malla. Among the brick walls with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony of 55 windows. This balcony is a masterpieace of wood carving.

The Stone Temple of Batsala Devi: which is also located in the Durbar square is full of intricate carvings. This temple also sets a beautiful example of Shikhara style of architecture in Nepal . There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple which is also known as the “bell of barking dogs”. This colossal bell, placed in 1737 A.D. was used to sound curfew during that time.

The Golden Gate: It is the entrance to the main countyard of the Palace of 55 windows. Built King Ranjit Malla, the Gate is one of the most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind in the entire world. This gate is embellished with deities and monsters of marvellous intricacy.

Taumadhi square: Taumadhi Square, just a half minute walk from the Durbar square is the square that divides the ancient town into the upper and lower halves. The biggest festival of the town – Bisket Jatra, scheduled every year in April – starts from this very square. The square is dominated by many mesmerizing temples and other medieval architecture such as:

Nyatapola Temple: The Nyatapola temple most dominantly lying in the south face of the square, named after its physical structure (five tiers of roof), is the tallest temple in the valley and certainly on of Nepal’s most stupendous monuments. The timple founded by king Bhupatindra Malla in 1702 A.D. is dedicated to Goddess Siddhi Laxmi – the most powerful female force. On each of the terraces squat a pair of figures; two famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins and Baghini and Singini the tiger and the lion goddesses. This is one of the tallest pagodas and is famous for its massive structureand subtle workmanship.

Bhairav Temple: The huge pagoda style temple erected at the eastside of the square is dedicated to Bhairav – the ferocious form of lord Shiva, built by Jagat Jyoti Malla in 1614 AD. This temple was first built as a one-storey pagoda but later changed into a three-storey temple in 1718 A.D. by king Bhupatindra Malla. Bhairav – the central image of the temple is a head without body. According to the legend, Vishvanath in other words a name given to Shiva in the holy city Kashi once visited Bhaktapur to observe the Bisket Jatra.

Teel Mahadev Narayan Temple: South from Nyatapola, across the Taumadhi square an alley beneath a house leads to the lord Vishnu’s ancient shrine of Teel Mahadev Narayan. Although the place was in use since 1080 A.D. the icons were believed to place inside the temple only in 1170 A.D. A disc, lotus, conch shell and a mace – four emblems of lord Vishnu are placed on pillars to the sides of the entrance.

Dattatraya Square: Like the other Squares, Dattatraya Square is another open museum that contains innumerable monumental masterpieces of woodcarvings. The square originally known as “Tachupal” verbally meaning the ‘grand rest house’ – alone consists seven ‘math’s, among a dozen existing in Bhaktapur. The major attractions of the Square are as follows:

Dattatraya Temple: Built in 1427 A.D. by king Yakshya Malla and his son Raja Malla is the only temple in Nepal that is dedicated to the God Dattatraya – the combined incarnation of the three supreme Gods of Hinduism; Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Near this temple is a monastery with exquisitely carved peacock windows.

Pujari Math ( Wood Carving Museum ): It is the best and the most richly architectured among all the maths. It was built by King Yakshya Malla in the 15 th century and was used for the storage of donations and contributions until late 20 th century. Until a few years back an annual caravan of Tibetan Lamas used to bring tributes to the monastery. It has a splendid collection of antique carvings. A set of 14 roof struts, image of Visundhara (1 st century), tantric images of Vishnu Vishwarupa with 30 arms and 17 faces and a mouth in its Bhairav (17 th century), Pujadevi (15 th century) etc. are a few to mention here.

Bhimsen Temple: To the west to the Dattatraya temple, across the square stands a double storied rectangular pagoda styled temple dedicated to Lord Bhimsen built in 1605 A.D. Lord Bhimsen is considered to be as strong as thousand elephant.

Pottery Square: Bhaktapur has two famous pottery squares, one is located at Talaco towards the Durbar Square and another one located at Suryamadhi, to the east of the Dattatraya square. Many potters can seen working on their traditional wheels and thousands of finished and seni-finished clay products lie about in beautiful rows under the sun.

Museums in Bhaktapur: The major specialized museums in Bhaktapur are as follows:

The National Art Gallery: This gallery located at Durbar Square , has a magnificent collection of ancient thanka paintings and various classic and medieval masterpieces belonging to Hindu and Buddhist schools depicting Tantrism of various periods and descriptions in wood, stone and metal.

The Wood Carving Museum: The Wood Carving museum is housed in a 19 th century building, known as the Pujari Math specially built for the priests of those periods. The ‘Math’ itself is elegant in its architecture with enumerable intricately carved wooden doors and windows including the famous Peacock window.

The Bronze & Brass Museum: Right opposite to the Wood Carving Museum , in specify name ‘Math’ the Bronze & Brass Museum displays heterogeneous ceremonial and household metal ware. The collection of objects such as jars, water vessels, cooking pots, oil pots etc which are used in the ancient and medieval periods.

Surya Vinayak: Situated in a beautiful surrounding of Bhadgaon, the temple of Ganesh is placed in a Sylvan setting to catch the first rays of the rising sun. It is a good picnic spot flanked by many attractive landscapes.

Changu Narayan: Narayan, or Vishnu, is the preserver of creation to Hindus. His temple near Changu village is often described as the most ancient temple in the Kathmandu Valley . A fifth century stone inscription, the oldest discovered in Nepal , is located in the temple compound and it tells of the victorious King Mandev. The temple now covers sixteen hundred years of Nepalese art history. The temple, built around the third century, is decorated by some of the best samples of stone, wood, and metal craft in the Valley. Vishnu as Narsingha disemboweling a demon is particularly stunning. The western bronze doors sparkle in the evening sunlight, dragons decorate the bells, and handsome devas stare from the walls. Garuda, half man and half bird, is the steed of Vishnu, and his life-sized statue kneels before the temple. The favorite of many tourists is the statue of Vishnu sitting astride his steed.

Nagarkot (Windy Hill): Perched on a ridge on the northeastern rim of the Kathmandu valley, at an elevation of 2175 m, this hill station is most popular, comfort and quite among Kathmandu sites. It is at a distance of 32 km from Kathmandu . Several factors have contributed to its popularity – easy accessibility, crisp mountain air, pristine and tranquil atmosphere, and the 360-degree view of the Himalayas . The most scenic spot close to the valley the village has managed to force its way into the travel section of Time magazine. Breathtaking sunrise and splendid evenings make a trip to Nagarkot most rewarding and refreshing. Five of the world’s 10 tallest mountain can be seen from here which are Everest (8848m), Lhotse (8516m), Cho Oyu (8201m), Makalu (8463m), and Manasalu (8163m).

KIRTIPUR

Kirtipur is one of the most ancient attractions of Nepal . Situated atop a strategic hillock 10 km southwest of Kathmandu , Kirtipur (local name Kipu) indeed embodies courage and bravery. Tribhuvan University is located at the foot of the hill. This historic town has many things to offer like old shrines and temples, old houses, the people typically dressed in old traditional costumes, people working on ancient loom etc. Those, who enjoy basking in antiquity, should never miss to go around this historic place to have a closes-up view of the wonderful lifestyle of its Newar inhabitants and their much admired skills in producing textile and other handicraft items. The height of Kirtipur also makes it a favored place for viewing the Kathmandu Valley as well as the Himalayas in the distant north. And for those, who wish blending their cultural trip with a touch of spiritual salvation, there are the Buddhist Chilamchu Stupa, Shiva Parvati temple and many other remarkable mountains.

Places outside Kathmandu
There are many beautiful and interesting places to visit outside the Kathmandu Valley- places of historical importance of noted for natural beauty. Most of them can be easily reached from kathmandu by road or by air.

Pokhara

Pokhara Valley is one of the most picturesque spot of Nepal . Pokhara stands at 884 meters above sea level, about 700 meters lower than Kathmandu . Its lovely lakes such as Fewa, Begnas and Rupa as well as Barahi Temple , Davy’s fall, Mahendra Gupha (Cave) etc enhances the beauty of the valley. Situated 200 km west of Kathmandu , Pokhara is connected by air as well or by tourist luxuries bus from Kathmandu . Pokhara offers the magnificent views of Dhaulagiri , Manaslu, Machhapuchhre, 5 peaks of Annapurna and many others. Pokhara’s numerous lakes, known as “Tal” in Nepali offer fishing, boating and swimming. Pokhara is gateway to go to several trekking destination in the country. Now a day Pokhara is a fashionable and holiday destination especially for the tourists where there are economical to the most luxurious hotels to welcome the visitors. In the Kathmandu Valley the high temples are all around you, in the Pokhara Valley it is the mountains.

Lumbini

Lumbini, a World Heritage Site is not only a place of pilgrimage but also an international tourist attraction where Lord Buddha was born, who ultimately got enlightenment and preached his message to the world. This nativity site was identified by Indian Emperor Ashoka’s commemorative pillar. The main attraction at the Lumbini remains the Sacred Garden that is spread over 8 sq. km, the Mayadevi Temple , Ashoka Pillar, sacred pond, China Temple etc. The sacred Garden possesses all the treasures of the historic area. The Mayadevi temple is the main attraction for pilgrims and archaeologists alike. Here we find a bas relief of Mayadevi, the Buddha’s mother giving birth to him. Standing west to the Mayadevi shrine is the oldest monument of Nepal ; the Ashoka’s pillar. Emperor Ashoka built the pillar in 249 BC to commemorate his pilgrimage to the sacred site. To the south of the pillar, we fine the sacred pond, Puskarni, where Queen Mayadevi had taken a bath just before giving birth to the Buddha. Today the holy site is being developed as the supreme Buddhist pilgrimage and a symbol of world peace. The shrines and monasteries built by different countries and in different times reflect the architectural traditions of the respective countries, and thus giving Lumbini an international feel with a message of universal friendship and brotherhood. About 30km east of Lumbini is the village of Tilaurakot , which is believed to have been the location of the Kapilvastu royal palace where the Buddha grew up as the Shakya dynasty prince, until he renounced it at the age of 29 in search of enlightenment.

A tour to this destination will bring emancipation in one’s life, which is so pure, peace and prosperous to those who seek salvation from the filthy activities practiced in the world. There are other places of interest too nearby as Kapilbastu. It is accessible by air from Kathmandu to Bhairahwa. From Kathmandu it takes about eight hours by bus or car.

There are also three museums in Lumbini
The Lumbini Museum , located in the Cultural Zone, contains Mauryan and Kushana coins, religious manuscripts, terra-cotta fragments, and stone and metal sculptures. It also possesses an extensive collection of stamps from various countries depicting Lumbini and the Buddha.

Kapilvastu Museum is situated 27 km west of Lumbini in the village of Tilaurakot . The museum holds coins, pottery and toys dating between the seventh century BC and fourth century AD. The museum also has good collection of jewelry and other ornaments of that period.

Lumbini International Research Institute (LIRI), located opposite to the Lumbini Museum , provides research facilities for the study of Buddhism and religion in general. Run jointly by the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) and the Reiyukai of Japan, LIRI contains some 12,000 books on religion, philosophy, art and architecture.

Some of the important sites around Lumbini:
Kapilvastu: Located some 27 kilometers west of Lumbini lies the ruins of the historic town of Kapilvastu , which is believed to the capital of Shakya Kingdom where Lord Buddha was brought up till he was 13. Kapilvastu has been identified with Tilaurakot by archaeologist. There are ruins and mounds of old stupas and monasteries made of kiln-burnt bricks and clay mortar. The remains are surrounded by a moat and the wall of the city is made of bricks. A museum at Kapilvastu showcases everyday materials like ancient coins, terracotta utensils, metallic weapons and ornaments.

Arorakot: About 10 kilometers morthwest of Taulihawa is a rectangular fortitied area popularly known as Arorakot, which is believed to be the natal town of Kanakmuni Buddha . There are remains of ancient moat and the fortification made of bricks. A brick lined will is seen to the south and an elevated mound is toward the northwest.

Gotihawa: About 5 kilometers southwest of Taulihawa, there is a village called Gotihawa where an Ashokan pillar is broke and lost. The lower portion is 3.5 meters high and still intact. A huge stupa is seen to the north east of the pillar.

Kudan: About 2 kilometers northwest of Taulihawa on a roadside is the dilapidated village of Kudan .

Niglihawa: About 8 kilometer northwest of Taulihawa is another site of archaeological importance. The place has a quadrangular pond surrounded by bushes locally known as Niglisagar. On the western bank of the pond there are two broken pieces of the Ashokan Pillar, the longer one lying flat on the ground while the shorter ones stand erect. The pillar bears two peacocks on the top.

Sagarhawa: About 12 kilometers north of Taulihawa is the forest of Sagarhawa . In the midst of the forest here is a huge rectangular pond, locally known as Lumbusagar or a long pond.

Devdaha: Situated at about 35 kilometers northeast of Lumbini, Devdaha is believed to be the maternal home of Prince Siddhartha. Siddhartha’s wife Princess Yasodhara was also from Devdaha.

Daman: Daman in Nepal is a destination for all seasons and is a perfect place for honeymoon couples, or any other visitors with short stay in Nepal. People come to this place for family holidays, meditation, seminars and to unwind or undertake more adventurous outdoor activities. It is located 80km south west of Kathmandu on the Tribhuwan Raj Path (the original highway to the nearest Indian border town- Raxaul), and is exactly half-way to Chitwan National Park from Kathmandu. It takes only 3 hrs of bus ride from Kathmandu to get here. On a clear day you can get a view of 400km range of Himalayas Panorama – 8 out of 10 highest mountains including Mt. Everest. You can also hike to a Buddhist Monastery & Rikheshwor Mahadevsthan or surrounding Tamang villages. Other attractions include – Pony Trek,Mountain Biking, Sunset Walk, Bird Watching, and Fishing near by Indra Sarovar Lake. Daman is famous for its countless varieties of Wild Orchids; Colorful and varied bird-life abounds; Deer can be seen around the resort compound sometimes.

Dhulikhel: Popular as a Himalayan viewpoint this small town is 30 km from the capital. Located on the Arniko highway that connects Nepal and Tibet , the small town still retains its ancient grandeur – age-old customs, temples and houses. The Newar town of Dhulikhel offers a traditional atmosphere along with spectacular views. A few minutes from Dhulikhel are the ancient villages of Panauti and Namo Buddha, which have their own stories to tell. Once an important link in the ancient trade route to Tibet , Dhulikhel has a glorious past, which can be seen in the lovely buildings and intricate woodcarvings in the shop-lined streets and temples. Pleasant climate is big attraction at Dhulikhel.

Kakani: Kakani is another good location for viewing the mountain scenery. Only two hours north-west of Kathmandu , one can see the mountain landscape of central Nepal , a vast collection of majestic peaks stretching from Ganesh Himal to the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. There is an unusually perfect blending of the imposing mountain scenery with the more sylvan environment of the lower valleys. Rhododendrons growing wild on the mountain slopes begin to bloom in late winter and stay in bloom for several months, giving the village even more charm.

Panauti: It is a thriving Newari village with beautiful temples and interesting old houses. Located between Punyamati and Rosikhola about 34km south east of Kathmandu . It derives its name from Punyamati River , also known as Punyamata by the local people. It is an interesting spot, as the people tend to believe that there is a huge rock all the way to Godavari from Panauti. They take it as a Naga, the serpent king capable of protecting them against earthquake of any richer scale in 1934. Once you are in Panauti, you will discover that the whole area is dotted with innumerable gods and goddesses rather like the constellation of stars in the universe.

Namo Buddha: Namo Buddha or Namura Stupa, which is highly revered by both Nepalese and Tibetan Buddhists. This is situated on a hill above Panauti. It requires an easy drive or good walk to get here. There is an amazing legends related to the Buddha, which is commemorated by an ancient stones slab and a stupa with the al-seeing eyes. From here, one can have incredible views to the Himalayan to north. A 7th century Chinese Buddhists pilgrim was told a similar story in Mongolia when he visited pilgrimage place, which seems to show the story was going the rounds of the tellers. It is said that Buddha in one of his previous lives was a prince and while game hunting with his friends, he found some tiger cubs whose mother was starving and unable to feed them. The prince cut some flesh from his body and fed the starving tigress and her cubs. The local from Panauti claimed him as their prince and say because of this good deed he became the Buddha in a later life.

Tansen: Located at an altitude of 1343m above the sea-level, Tansen is the most popular summer resort in western Nepal because of its position and climate. It has the most extensive views of the country’s chief attraction, the great Himalayan ranges from Gaurishanker in the northeast to Dhaulagiri in the west. It takes just seven-hours by drive from Pokhara to get Tansen.

Palanchowk Bhagawati: It is a 42km, one-hour drive from Kathmandu to Palanchowk on the Arniko highway. This noted historic temple of goddess Kali is situated at a hilltop some 7km north of Panchkhal. One can really enjoy the panoramic view of the landscape from this spot. This temple is said to have been constructed during the region of King Mandev. The temple houses a three feet high idol of goddess Kali artistically carved in a black stone, which is one of the best examples of such intricate workmanship.

Gosainkunda: One of the most famous religious places of pilgrimage of Nepal is Gosainkunda lake, situated at an altitude of about 4360 m. The best approach to Gosainkunda is through Dhunche, 132 kilometres north east of kathmandu. Dhunche is linked with Kathmandu by a motorable road. Surrounded by high mountains on the north and the south, the Lake is grand and picturesque. There are other nine famous lakes such as Saraswati, Bhairav, Sourya and Ganesh Kunda, etc.

Timal Narayan: The route from Dhulikhel to Timal Narayan is ideal for a short trek. From here one can have a beautiful view of Gaurishanker Himal and other important peaks as well as Sunkoshi river. It is also very pleasant to visit the villages of the Tamang people who live in this area.

Charikot: About 133 kilometers from Kathmandu , Charikot provides a spectacular mountain view of the Gaurishanker. In the eastern upper part of Dolakha township there is a famous roofless temple of Dolakha Bhimsen .

Helambu: Helambu situated about 72 kilometers north-east of Kathmandu is famous for its scenic grandeur and pleasant climate. There are many Buddhist monasteries amidst a rich and enchanting landscape. Sundarijal is the starting point to trek to Helambu which is mere 11 kilometers away from Kathmandu .

Gorkha: Gorkha is the birth place of King Prithvi Narayan Shah- the Great, the founder of modern Nepal . Situated on a hill overlooking the snowy peaks of the Himalayas , there is a beautiful old palace known as Gorkha Durbar. There are two attractive temples of Gorakhnath and Kali inside the palace precinct. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple of Gorakhanath . Gorkha can be reached in about six hours from Kathmandu and in about four hours from Pokhara. A side trip to Manakamana on the way to Gorkha is very enjoyable and interesting.

Muktinath: The famous temple of Lord Muktinath lies in the district of Mustang and is situated about 18 kilometers north east of Jomsom at an altitude of about 3,749 meters. The temple is situated on a high mountain range and is visited during fair weather. There are two ways to get to Muktinath from Kathmandu . Either to take a direct flight from Kathmandu via Pokhara to Jomsom and hike for a couple of hours via Kagbeni or to trek all the way from Pokhara. There is also air service from Pokhara to Jomsom.

Rapti Valley (Chitwan): From Kathmandu it takes six hours to reach Chitwan. Situated 120 kilometers south-west of Kathmandu , the main attraction of Chitwan is Royal Chitwan National Park . This is one of the Nepal’s largest forest regions with a wide range of wildlife- the rare great one horned rhinoceros, several species of deer, sloth bear, leopard, wild boar, fresh water dolphin, crocodile and the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger. The diverse ecology is home to around 600 plant species, 50 mammals, and 49 amphibians and reptiles. Some of these flora and fauna are endangered.

Namche Bazaar: The name of Namche Bazaar is generally associated with that of Sagarmatha ( Mt. Everest ), the highest peak in the world. It is the entrance to the Everest region. Situated on the lap of Khumbu Himal range, Namche Bazaar is about 241 km. from Kathmandu and the distance is generally covered within 15 days by trekking. This place is the home of the legendary Sherpas. One can fly from Kathmandu to Lukla and Syangboche in the Everest region. Accommodations are available at Lukla, Namche bazaar, Thyangboche, Debuche, Periche, Pangboche, Lobuche and Gorakhshep respectively.

Janakpur: A great religious place, Janakpur is famous as the birthplace of Sita, the consort of Lord Rama. There is an artistic marble temple of Sita (Janaki), popoularly known as Naulakha Mandir. Religous festivals, pilgrimages, trade fairs and other festivities are held here on Bivaha Panchami and Ram Navami days. Janakpur is also linked with Kathmandu by air and road.

Biratnagar: The second largest city of Nepal Biratnagar is situated in the Koshi Zone. The city has some of the largest industrial undertakings in the country. There are a couple of pilgrimage spots in Dharan and Barahachhetra nearby the city. Biratnager is linked with Kathmandu by air and road.

Barahachhetra: A few kilometers from the main city of Biratnagar , Barahachhetra, the holy place of Hindu pilgrimage, lies at the confluence of the two rivers the Saptakoshi and Kokaha. There is the temple of Lord Baraha , the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Historians have traced the existence of this image from the twelth century.

Hile: It is situated about 13 kilometers north of Dhankuta Bazaar. The panorama of the major peaks of the eastern Himalayas including Sagarmatha (Mt.Everest) Makalu , Lhotse and Kumbhakarna.

Antu Danda: It is situated at an altitude of 1,677 m. in the llam district and is famous for its unique views of Everest and Kanchenjunga . It is the best place for viewings sunrise and sunset. There is a motorable road from llam to chhipitar.

 

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